|low graphics version | feedback | help|
|You are in: Talking Point|
Wednesday, 23 August, 2000, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
The Kursk: How much has Russia changed?
The Russian authorities have been criticised for not being open enough about the Kursk submarine disaster, for issuing contradictory reports and for not seeking foreign help earlier.
Yet it has been Russia's own media which has led the way in these attacks on the official handling of the disaster.
Going back a couple of decades, it is hard to imagine a Russian television reporter delivering live updates of a nuclear submarine accident from the deck of one of the rescue ships.
Clearly, something has changed in the way such events are handled, but there remain echoes of the official secrecy, and perhaps pride, which was the hallmark of the Kremlin and the Russian military during the Soviet era.
How much has Russia really changed?
Ivan Lavelle, England
This is the time for Russia to become more democratic and to think about its own people.
It seems like Russia is living in the XVIII century. This guy Putin must answer a lot of questions. His behaviour has been completely wrong since the first day of the accident.
I am still not quite sure if the Russians learnt the lesson. The politicians and military people alike speak now about the need to increase military spending, purchase of new and modern weaponry, maintaining their "superpower" status, etc. But I can hardly hear any sober voice that Russia simply cannot afford it, and that perhaps it needs to scale down everything in this respect. I only hope that the sober minds will appear.
Overall Russia has deteriorated on every front since the days of the erstwhile Soviet Union. All what is left to glorify is the nuclear arsenal.
On behalf of the Russian people I would like to thank British and Norwegian rescuers for the help. I would like to read reports of the rescuers about what they saw in the submarine. We don't believe our Navy and government officials.
This sunken submarine is an environmental threat regardless of the propaganda coming out of Russia. This threat needs to be addressed and hopefully by parties more adept at the task than the Russians appear to be.
Russia let its people down like it has many times since the Soviet break-up. If they asked for US help their boys might still be alive. And for secrecy, do they think the have any secrets form American spies, get real Putin!
Dan Miller, USA
Russia's farcical handling of the situation exemplifies the barriers of despotism within the government. The Russian government is directly responsible for this human calamity. The secrecy and indiscretion within the government clearly illustrates that Russia is a weak relic of the Soviet era.
Brenne Buckley, Scotland
I think you need to look at the big picture. It's been hard for Russia to ask for help. Maybe next time they will feel more able to ask sooner. I'm sure they didn't want this disaster to happen. If something good can come from this, then it's closer relations with old adversaries. Lets not let these men die for nothing.
Kaj Leers, The Netherlands
The tragedy with the Kursk submarine shows once again that Russia is still governed by "Soviet thick heads" and the election of Vladimir Putin as President was a big mistake. On the other hand, the behaviour of the Russian media and the comments of the ordinary people who are not afraid to criticise and express their anger with the authorities might be the sign of the "reawakening" of the Russian civil society.
The strongest message that this incident proves is the character of President Putin. He is man who invites applause by killing "enemies of the State" and not by his performance as a Head of a Democratic Country. Finally Putin proved himself as a Man of Blood and Violence NOT a man of Hearts.
A.K., Russian Federation
The sinking of the Kursk shows the poor state of Russia's society as a whole, economically and militarily.
I made 5 patrols on a "boomer". My heart and prayers go out to the Russian Sub-Sailors. There are many, many precautions and drills done to prevent such accidents. Why were there "live" torpedoes on a training exercise? With so many "boats" in the area, what prolonged the rescue attempt? Finally, what about the missiles, what about a reactor meltdown? The Russian Sub Navy has been "bluffing" its strength since the 60's. This accident should be a "wake-up" call to all people about the danger and destructive power of missile loaded "nuke" subs.
The Russian military and Mr Putin are not culpable for this terrible disaster. I believe they knew early on the extent of the tragedy, but were unable to do anything productive. What we have here is just another example of international capital punishing the arrogance of past Russian military attitudes.
We prayed in church on Sunday, that God would bring some good from this horrible tragedy.
This is a very humbling experience for the Russians. I just hope that they will learn their lesson that man must come to terms to his own limitations. It is no disgrace to ask for help when we know that we've already reached rock bottom.
Stefan Brzozowski, England
The Russians must have been aware of their capabilities and should have acted faster in asking for help. Their pride has cost them 118 lives. How is the rest of their marine force meant to feel? That they risk their lives every day, yet there is no chance of ever being rescued in case of an accident. The Russians have not only lost their pride that they are so keen on protecting but also their marine force's trust.
It took the Norwegian divers just a few hours, to open the hatch. The Russians did not manage this operation in a week.
I think someone should be held responsible for this!!
The Norwegians achieved more in a day than the Russians did in a week. I wonder how many Russians will get in one of their subs after this little fiasco.
I believe that every powerful nation - the US, UK, China and many others would have also declined the offer of assistance. Perhaps the lives of 118 servicemen is a cheaper price to pay than the discovery of secrets hidden from the prying eyes of other nations?
Our prayers go out to the victims of this tragedy and to their families.
This is a time for the Russians to rise above the incompetence and arrogance of their politicians and military puppets. A simple rescue mission could not even be handled correctly. What the Russian navy took days to decide or do, the Norwegians accomplished in a matter of hours: opening the escape hatch and getting access to the ship.
One might see a larger metaphor
in the scenario being played
out with the West now coming
to the bail out the hapless Russians.
Maybe it's time to scrap the war
toys, which rather than protecting
their owners are nothing but death
If the Russian navy cannot rescue their own. What chance do the Brits, Americans or Jamaicans have.
Their sub with their boys on their shoreline...all we have is hope.
How ironic that a weapon of mass destruction has managed to bring about a united world and a concern that all life is precious no matter what the ideological
differences may be.
At this moment we are all comrades at last hoping that those 118 men may be saved.
1. Rescue operations should have started
immediately on receipt of distress signals.
Valery Levitanus, USA (Born in Ukraine)
I haven't prayed for a long time,
but the plight of those desperate human
beings who would, just as any one of
us have the desire to live and contribute
to life and the world, moved me so
that a prayer did indeed slip my lips.
I hope, nay I pray that those men
will live ! Damn the leaders who choose
who lives and who dies.
With the ceaseless signals intelligence battle, that's been on full tilt since the 1950s, waged against Russia by the Allied Powers, most notably Britain and the United States, there is the strong argument for the want for secrecy by the Russian military (I'd say that they'd be down right paranoid by now!). That the US Navy can tell us, with a straight face, that they detected the two explosions from the Kursk does tell us something!
If a US sub had been involved, it would naturally complicate matters. Recently, also, the US has refused Russia's help with forest fires. Some of these sub "games" that the US has played have led to some serious mishaps for the Russians. My sympathies and heartfelt support for those who are trying to find a place in the "Western" (American) world. It's a cruel world still of winners and losers to some.
Iain Millar, New Zealand
Shouldn't we start
referring to the
Royal Navy rescue
mission as the US
That's what the
Hollywood film will
The men who head the Russian Navy (like their counterparts in the US and UK) spent years under orders to protect technological and tactical secrets at almost any cost. That sort of culture of secrecy is not easily dispensed with and will probably only fade as these long-embattled cold warriors retire.
Attributing the delay in rescuing the hapless navy crew to Russian secrecy and mistrust would be misguided, as time and again actions of the Russian government makes it obvious that human lives, be they of its civilians or of those of other countries, are insignificant when considering the interests of the States.
Robbie Stewart, Scotland
There are a number of things that must be remembered here. Whilst in retrospect it may be easy to say that the Russians should have asked for help earlier, I think they are no different to the UK and US in trying to solve the problem before looking for help. A country would normally only seek help if their own avenues prove exhausted, especially in military situations such as this. Also, before Russian pride is questioned, I would like to ask why the UK Rescue Sub was not flown to Norway and prepared there earlier rather than waiting in the UK for the Russians to request assistance.
A tragedy unfolding... we should pray. In a time of peace, a (botched) military exercise should not lead to such a horrifying death. For National Security reasons (and others), every military operates on the premise that..."these are our boys and we'll do everything we can to get them out," but ill-fated decisions do play a part, and untimely decisions are very costly. One can't help but be struck by the tragic irony which is implicit here - a military exercise. This holds profound lessons for all citizens of the earth.
Erik H, USA
I don't know about any of the other posters; but I'm not in the navy, not a submariner, not a diver and I've never had to pull 118 men out of a military grade tube 400ft beneath churning seas.
I think there are very few people qualified to decide if the Russian navy has done the right thing or not.
Certainly the spin seems to be that they haven't - but who'd trust a politician?
Nationalism, pride, the unwillingness of the Russian politicians to ask for assistance this is unfortunately characteristic of any country who classifies themselves as a super power, i.e., U.S, U.K, China and Russia. They must demonstrate to the rest of the world their determination to handle internal crisis, especially Russia, considering their present situation. If there is any consolation, the men of the Kursk will pass with their comrades and at sea.
Russia has done what ANY of the
other Western powers that have
offered help would have done. They
have first tried to deal with it
themselves, now that that has failed,
they have asked for help. The
Russians have ALWAYS handled
things by themselves and in their own
way .. something that should earn
them some overdue respect (with
the western media). I think this
whole topic is off-the-track, let's
just HOPE that SOMEONE can save
those 118 men.
I think the Russian authorities have taken a delayed decision to rescue the human life stuck in the sub. Sometimes I am never in favour of politicians this being a living example when it comes to saving the human life. Top politicians do not care for life if they can find cover just to guard non-human interest. It is high time nations take heed to review the military situation in order to preserve human life.
I may be wrong, but it doesn't sound as if the rescue would have happened much more quickly if the Russians had asked for our help immediately. Of course, the time it's taking may be a result of not having been able to count on using Russian ports and resources. How quickly could the rescue attempt have got underway for a British sub?
It is impossible to believe that anyone would deliberately allow another human being (let alone so many) to die in such horrific circumstances, for any reason whatsoever. The Russians have shown a callous and frightening disregard for the sacredness of human life.
The fact that they refused American help which happened to be immediately available and on the spot suggests that the Russians have something to hide. Bringing in the Brits is but a token of acceptance of help to what assistance they could have had immediately after the incident.
Finally, military personnel know what they're getting into when they enlist or are commissioned. While this does not make the turn of events any less dire, its basic principle provides the underlying strength on which any strong military force is based.
Madhav Mukundan, USA
In a general sense, the Russian Government has unnecessarily risked the lives of its sailors. It cannot afford to maintain its navy, yet it persists in sending men to sea in vessels of doubtful seaworthiness. On a specific point and noting the poor safety record of the Russian submarine fleet, I am surprised that they do not possess the right sort of equipment to cope with this type of incident. However, let us see how the British rescue submarine copes with the situation before jumping to any conclusions.
Without resorting to high-profiled spin doctors and their sound bites to satisfy the feeding frenzy of the media, the Russians are going about the serious business of rescuing their submariners, without compromising their military position.
Ask the relatives of the poor men stuck down there since Saturday if they think that the Russian military were right to leave it for so long before seeking aid. Personally, I just don't get it. Pride comes before a fall...
Pee Rei, NL
Not many countries have Oscar II class submarines so we can't say what other countries would do.
But Russia should have sought help when it became clear it couldn't cope. And the secrecy angle doesn't wash. Surely our spies will have provided the full schematics for this kind of hardware already?
As they say, "Pride comes before a fall." It's just a shame that the lives of so many of their own countrymen have to be jeopardised in order for Russian leaders to save face.
Jonathan Clarke, Australia
Any country engaged in a sensitive military operation would have acted in the same manner. When there is no indication of survivors, of course they would try and raise the sub before asking for outside assistance. The families should be considered and the government has an obligation to give them as much information as possible regarding the well being of their loved ones.
It seems very distrusting and very much harking back to cold war days, but would the British navy accept help from Russia without first spending precious time trying to solve the problem itself?
Pride has killed millions through human history. Nationalism is another name for pride.
The Russians are doing what any self-respecting nation would do. After all, if a Trident missile boat went down off the coast of Scotland, would the MOD be pleading with the Russians for assistance?
Russia hasn't handled it! Too little, too late. I hope for the sub-mariners and their families that they are found alive.
17 Aug 00 | Europe
Race to save stricken sub
Other Talking Points:
Links to other Talking Point stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy